Mark Appel is proof that even for a No. 1 draft pick, the road to the big leagues is sometimes tricky.
Appel was called up by the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, nine years after being selected as the first overall by Houston. In the middle, he bounced back with the minors, was changed in the 2015 deal that sent Ken Giles to the Astros and even left baseball a bit.
He resurfaced last year and finally joined the Phillies this weekend, though he didn’t pitch. If Appel, 30, appears in a game for Philadelphia, he will be the fourth No. 1 pick to make his Major League debut this year, joining Royce Lewis (Twins) of 2017 and Adley Rutschman (Orioles) of 2019. and Spencer Torkelson of 2020 (Tigers).
Only once have they debuted four top teams in a year. That was in 1989, when Andy Benes, Ken Griffey Jr. and Jeff King, the No. 1 in each of the previous three years, began his career in the Major League. The other first chosen to debut in 1989 was Ben McDonald, who had been selected that same year by Baltimore.
With the draft coming next month, here are some other notes on the history of the No. 1 general election, with some help from Baseball-Reference.com:
– Although so far, 1989 is the only year in which four first teams debuted in the Grand League, there have been other seasons in which they have made the first three. Those were 2007 (Luke Hochevar, Justin Upton and Josh Hamilton) and 1987 (BJ Surhoff, Shawn Abner and Tim Belcher).
– Although it was more common in the early days of the draft, McDonald is the last player to debut the same year he was selected first overall. The longest wait lies with Matt Bush, who was taken in 2004 by San Diego and finally pitched in the majors in 2016 for Texas. He’s still with the Rangers.
– Appel is one of the few number 1 teams that have not played in the majors. Steve Chilcott, picked in 1966 by the New York Mets, and Brien Taylor, taken by the New York Yankees in 1991, had injury problems. Brady Aiken, selected in 2014 by Houston, is a more recent example. Last year’s first pick, Henry Davis, hit Double A in the Pittsburgh Pirates system.
Appel was recruited by two other teams (and did not sign) before the Astros picked him first overall. Who were those franchises?
LINE OF THE WEEK
Austin Hays had to beat in time to get to the cycle. On Wednesday night, Hays and the Orioles defeated Washington 7-0 in a game reduced to six innings. It was long enough: he hit a single in the first, a home run in the third, a triple in the fourth and a double in the sixth.
RETURN OF THE WEEK
Under 2-0 with two outs in the ninth and no one, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a 1.1% chance of beating Atlanta on Sunday night, according to Baseball Savant. Then former Dodger Kenley Jansen allowed a couple of singles, putting the men in first and third place. After Chris Taylor stole second, Trayce Thompson’s single scored the two runners to force extra innings.
Each team scored once in the 10th before the Dodgers finally won 5-3 in 11. Los Angeles won two of three on Freddie Freeman’s return to Atlanta.
The Detroit Tigers took Appel out of high school in 2009 in the 15th round. He was selected eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012 before returning to Stanford for his senior season and rising to No. 1.
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Appel arrives in big year for the No. 1 draft pick
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